Takatoshi Kosaka's report of his XC

The following was written by Takatoshi Kosaka and published on the Southern Hangies forum on the 25 March 2016. This report has been archived here.

OK here I throw my report. Sorry if any typo or whatever, I haven't checked them well. This is a long one but for those who cannot bother to read through:

Airspace and Track-Log

Airspace and Track-Log
25 Mar 2016

Earlier and east of Parham the air was voyant but mostly blue and thermals not very strong making it difficult and slow to get going. To the west of Parham we had a much better air with 5000 ft base despite more westerly wind. Turned around at Mercury at 59km then on the return leg was forced quite a bit of meandering chasing for clouds and avoiding the arispaces. Managed to be back near Petworth for the last climb somehow and made a final glide from 4700 ft to Truleigh.

The Weather

The synoptic showed a small ridge passing the southern UK with the magically perfect timing.

Surface pressure GFS Fr 25.03.2016 12 GMT

Surface pressure GFS Fr 25.03.2016 12 GMT
25 Mar 2016

The lapse rate looked good with the dew point quickly dropping from 7 to 2-3 degrees making us hope that the rain the night before would not affect the thermal activity much.

The morning would start as a typical post-frontal with breezy N which would quickly drop and become westerly by early-afternoon as the high-pressure system moves towards the east. The east of Arundel gap through all over Sussex would get sea-breezed easily, which it did, when the wind has any westerly component. It seems the Dyke was hit by the sea-breeze at about 14:30.

Lasham was saying that a wetter-airmass behind the ridge would reach over their area, because the ridge is so small, that could suddenly kill the day (which didnít affect our area eventually).

The Task

An out-and-return seemed the most likely task we would try, but if you want to get back to the take-off, you would have to get back early before the sea-breeze kills the thermals around the area. Or stay west of Arundel gap until late and enjoy thermals a bit longer before trying to make back as close as to the starting point (which I did).

The flight

11:08 Took off with Dave and Luke and the air felt quite voyant. Some nice clouds could be seen far to the west but very thin puffs only within our reach.

11:30 Cookie was the first to jump the Steyning gap from the cloud base NW of Truleigh. I didnít find anything solid under him and went back to the front of Truleigh and started over, with Paul, Luke and Dave.

I found a better core slight to the east but no one else joined me.

11:45 At 4000ft I started to cross the Steyning gap but half-way through hit a 8-down plummeting so I wimped and turn around towards the Truleigh.

Luke, Paul and Dave were climbing out North of Upper Beeding.

11:57 Down to 700 ft finally I found something to turn in east of Truleigh, for the second start-over. This time I joined James, Chris and Grant and we all climbed to almost 4000 ft again.

12:17 Left Truleigh (again), this time taking more northerly route. I found a weak stuff at 2300 ft on the other side of the gap. Soon I found Dave/Luke/Paul were grovelling behind the ridge but slowly climbing. A few minutes later they pushed back to the front of the ridge and passed below me towards Steyning.

12:40 At 3700 ft, I headed west and at the south of Storrington saw Cookie coming back from west below me. That isnít a good sign. I pushed a little to the west but didnít feel the air good so turned around.

12:50 South of Storrington again and down to 1200 ft I finally found a weak thermal. a couple of minutes later I found Luke slightly north of and way above me and then all others and Hugh Miller on a PG climbing out and leaving the thermal. Also Mark Watts appeared from east just keeping gliding at 400 ft above the ground. He would keep gliding to the the west a few more km without gaining anything and I thought he would land soon..

My climb was initially slow and fizzled out at 2600 ft. Pushing upwind I soon found a better one that took me to 4000 ft.

I could see the leading group near Amberley reaching the area of nice cuís and climbing fast, but those clouds would have drifted way to the south by the time I could reach.

13:05 So instead I headed for another small cloud up wind.

The glide was horrible but I just told myself that this must be a sign of good lifts beyond.

2km west of Parham and down to 1900 ft I found a solid 5 up as expected. Suddenly I noticed Mark on PG was heading my way, he had survived and got back up! Then out of nowhere Luke came in just below me. I could also see Hugh hanging under the cloud to the south.

The clouds above me quickly developed nicely and I was at 4600 ft.

13:30 and 26km out From here everything got much easier.

The first glide was into a strong westerly but got a climb over Duncton (30km out) while I could finally find again the leading group 1 km in front. Luke took a slightly northerly route but it didnít make any difference, it turned out that every cloud was working.

In the next thermal I finally caught up with Cookie, Paul and Dave, and soon joined by Luke. It was so nice seeing so many of us 35 km out!

14:00, Cookie decided to turn around and head back and the rest carried on. If you wanted to get back to the Dyke this would have been the last chance.

I headed for Cocking and hit a 4 up to 4300 ft followed by Dave and Paul. Luke went toward a more shaded area towards Midhurst and also got a nice climb. I was a bit concerned about the 4500 ft ceiling of the Midhurst airspace and opted for staying closer to its southern border.

14:15, 3300 ft over Harting and Dave and Paul a few km behind. I had got lost sight of Luke.

There were still nice lines of cues in front so I would push a little more for another half an hour.

14:30, south of Petersfield, 51km from Dyke, got to 5000 ft and saw the next cloud beyond Butser within an easy reach. OK, I will try to round Mercury and head back.

West of Butser topped up to 4300 ft under a nice streeting clouds.

14:48, 3600 ft Rounded Mercury (59km) and returned to the same thermal and started to climb again.

By now the look of the sky has changed quickly as if the day is close to an end with clouds thinning out. At 4000 ft I had to make a big decision about where to head for.

The clouds above me is directing SE to Chichester but I wasnít sure how long it would last.

Direct to the east along the ridge there were no clouds within reach.

To the NE beyond Petersfield were the only clouds that looked working and hopefully I could arrive there with just enough height.

So off I went. A very sinky 7km glide, again believing myself that this is a sign that the air is still active.

15:00 Down to 1700 ft and 50km out, I hit a 4 up. The clouds above were starting to decay and I was still worried that the climb would stop at any moment.

Fortunately it kept lifting me up. I could see the next cloud near Midhurst and another to its south around Cocking. I intended to head for Midhurst but the its under the 4500 ft airspace and my climb didnít stop until 4700 ft at the western edge of that airspace!

So I had to veer off to SSE along the edge of the Midhurst airspace until I lost height to below the ceiling and then headed for the clouds over Cocking. I could see a sailplane thermalling, and from the tracklog Dave was also climbing there.

By the time I got there the clouds had started to decay, and I found nothing but sink. So I headed north, again, to Midhurst for a newly forming little cloud.

15:25, 2200 ft and 39km out over Midhurst, I started to climb and was relieved a bit. But there was a next burden, the Petworth airspace with 3500 ft ceiling just east of me!

I climbed out to 4300 ft so the only thing I could do is to get around the SW corner of the 3500 ft zone. To my east the sky looked pretty much dead and blue, except for the last few wisps 7-8km away which were also dissipating. I had no other option, so I headed for them.

15:40, 2100 ft and 30km out south of Petworth, I arrived at where the last clouds were and was connected with a 2-up. The thermal felt fragile but it magaged to lift me to 4100 ft. Better than I expected and I could reach Parham now.

15:55, 3700 ft and 27km out, I hit another thermal, the last thermal of the day, in the complete blue sky which took me to 4700 ft. At this point I saw a sea-breeze cloud forming just south of me. Maybe I just contacted the sea-breeze front.

26 km out and I was not going to make it. I tucked my arms in and tried to adjust the speed for the best glide angle watching the numbers on my Compeo. With the now westerly tail wind the glide was incredibly good. Didn't throw my eyes on the Parham airfield or I should have spotted Dave! Lower the wind shifted to WSW. I initially headed for Henfield and would have made somewhere north of Dyke but half-way down the glide I remembered that if I want to claim an out and return I need to get closer to the foot of the Dyke ridge to close the O&R. So I decided to slip in the field in Edburton, at the bottom of Truleigh, 3km short, touching down at 16:21.

It was blowing at 15 mph WSW on the ground.

112km O&R, 127km open distance with 3 turn points, 5h14min

Thank you to Chris for the quick retrieve and to James for getting fish and chips ready back at the pub, what a treat!

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